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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Defense & Arms Control Studies Program

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My colleagues and I are often asked to identify the strategy the United States should adopt now that the Cold War has become a fast fading memory. What guidance can we offer those in government who formulate national policy For what wans should American forces prepare How should defense forms think about their futures Will Russia reemerge soon as a threat to international stability What about Chinas growing power Will we be involved in more Bosnias and Haitis or was our withdrawal from Somalia the start of a trend toward isolationism How big should the defense budget be and what should be its strategic and technological focus We each have cogent answers for all of these questions and occasionally even agree among ourselves. Of course, in providing our answers we often resort to the standard academic hedge on the one hand 4is this possible and on the other that. Asd the record on our ability to predict the future is slightly marred by our collective inability to foresee the happy end of the Cold War, the publics rejection of George Bush so soon after his Gulf War triumph and the deployment of American ground forces to Bosnia. What I believe we are especially good at is framing issues, not prescribing policies, when the security future is the subject. Life is full of the unexpected - favorable and trying events that both tempt and test us. How we react to the temptations and challenges should be without surprise. By mapping the options, the frameworks we offer help decision makers avoid the confusion that surprise events often produce. Barry Posen in several excellent publications has outlined well Americas grand strategy options. They are what he calls Primacy Cooperative Security Selective Engagement and Restraint. Among us are articulate late advocates for all of these strategies save perhaps Primacy, and even then such advocates are not more than one or two subway stops away.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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